I first learned about natural family planning when I was researching the Catechism of the Catholic Church. My husband and I were newly married and we were starting the RCIA process (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) to enter the Church. At the time I was taking hormonal contraceptives and I honestly was completely unaware of alternative natural methods to space pregnancy.
Although I am a health professional with a doctoral degree, I never learned about fertility awareness in pharmacy school. My schooling and my own physician proposed hormonal contraception as the only effective option for avoiding pregnancy.
When I started digging into the Church’s teaching and the supporting Scripture, I felt convicted about not using hormonal birth control, but for a period of time I let my traditional medical education outweigh my nudging from God. A couple years and one child later, my husband and I wanted to get pregnant with a second child. Thankfully we were able to conceive again, but only after many painful months of trying (if only I had known the Creighton method then!). In my mind, it was my use of hormonal contraceptives that delayed our conception, and the experience convinced me that I never again wanted to use hormonal contraceptives.
I found a Creighton Model instructor through the website of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul and with that I found instant peace of mind. To discover there was an option for avoiding pregnancy that both honored God and that was founded in scientific evidence satisfied both my mind and my spirit. As I learned and used the Creighton Model it became evident that something was not right with my cycles; namely, that I was not cycling at all, despite stopping breastfeeding over six months earlier.
I went to my OB/GYN and then to an endocrinologist. I had multiple lab tests and a brain MRI. I received a diagnosis of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. The physician told me to cut back on my exercise and my stress level, gain some weight, and that if my period did not come back in six months, she could just put me on hormonal contraceptives to get me to cycle again. At this point, I wasn’t planning on meeting with my Creighton practitioner, Karla, until I cycled again, but she reached out to me to ensure things were still going okay. I explained my situation to her, and she asked, “Would you like me to ask our natural family planning physician about this?”
I was in complete shock. “There are natural family planning physicians?” I wondered. Again, though I am a trained health professional, I was completely unaware there were any health professionals trained specifically in methods of natural family planning and fertility awareness. Instead of giving me medication to cover up my symptoms and produce an artificial bleed (i.e. hormonal contraceptives), my Naprotechnology-trained physician identified the root cause of my condition and prescribed me a medication that helped to naturally stimulate estrogen production. I am more than happy to say that I am now cycling normally again! I cannot express how much the Creighton Model, and Naprotechnology have positively impacted my life except to share with as many people as will listen.
I believe in this message so much that I have now started my own business, NFP Pharmacist, where I educate women and couples on natural family planning methods, help them determine which method would be the best fit for them, and then connect them with resources to be successful in their chosen method. Thank you to my Creighton practitioner Karla, my Naprotechnology provider Dr. Dawn Schreifels, and Twin Cities FertilityCare for changing my life!
Thanks to Emily for sharing her Creighton story! Are you interested in learning more about what the Creighton Model can offer you and your fertility? Sign up for an Introductory Session here!